While the Pittsburgh Steelers have certainly not drawn the shortest straw this summer when it comes to injuries, they have had their fair share as well. The team has managed to avoid any major, long-term issues so far, but a number of players have missed significant and valuable time with this injury or that.
One young and important player who missed some valuable time lately is second-year cornerback Artie Burns, who was out for over a week since suffering an apparent leg injury early during the team’s Friday night practice a short while ago. He missed their first preseason game and only returned to practice yesterday.
But the good news is apparently that he was able to pick up where he left off. The former first-round pick has so far looked like a different player than the one who came into training camp last year—even if he did miss a good bit of time with injuries last time as well.
While things have looked to be changing a bit with his return to practice, the cornerback has spent the majority of his time this summer to date being tasked with following All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown all over the field, learning to cover arguably the best in the game.
And he has done so, putting up far better a fight than he did a year ago, something that was critical for the coaching staff to see out of him, because it is necessary for what they hope to be able to accomplish and to execute on defense this season that he takes that major step forward and becomes their clear number one cornerback.
The Steelers did not throw Burns right back into the fire in his first practice back from injury, however (and I assure you that any pun in the previous statement was unintended). Not only did they hold him out of some sessions, easing his way back in, they also didn’t stick him on brown for every rep.
With Martavis Bryant returning to practice the same day, that will be even more important, because it will be valuable for Burns to get a variety of looks against different wide receivers, and Bryant is easily the second-most talented and skilled wide receiver on the roster who offers a different body type.
It was encouraging, however, to get the chance to see Burns seemingly step right back into the emergent level of performance that he had shown previously before his injury. The next test will be to see what he looks like in their next preseason game, and we should get a long look then.